The Bloody HD Camera Wars Are Coming

By: John Honovich, Published on Aug 25, 2014

The most important emerging trend in video surveillance today is the emergence of non-IP HD cameras.

But the conflicting go-to-market strategies and the weaknesses of each participant are likely to make this a bloody fight that risks undermining its potential.

In this note, we analyze the competitive positioning of the main players (such as Dahua CVI, Hikvision TVI, AHD, SDI and traditional IP players like Axis) and how this is likely to play out.

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Comments (25)

I was told the benefit of AHD DVRs will support both analog and AHD over composite whereas CVI and TVI DVRs will only support CVI andTVI.

Nope, all of them can potentially support both NTSC / PAL SD analog so long as the recorder has the built in circuitry to handle it. Dahua and Hikvision are marketing the same 'tribrid' offerings - combinations of HD analog, old analog and IP. Of course, all of those come at a premium cost.

IP HD will win out... CVI, TVI, PVI, MVI, HVI, HCHD, and any other hybrid HD technology to come out of the woodwork will die on the vine. These technologies are proprietary and that does not bode well for their future. I've seen enough formats to know that these will not last, technological turnover will eat these platforms for breakfast... Just give it 3 years

IP HD was proprietary too for many years. Ergo ONVIF, right?

Yes, Since ONVIF my view has been that they have secured IP's future. Without a standardized platform any technology would be volunerable.

IP video was proprietary for years and years, and it didn't die on the vine.

Ari, I made the same comment right before you :)

I agree that it "won't die on the vine"

However, the big difference about the proprietary issue here is that there's no easy resolution amongst them. How will I mix and match TVI, CVI and AHD? It's not impossible in the long run, but it's going to add cost, complexity and confusion.

I won't argue semantics with you... however my point is that I think everything will be IP (cat5/6 & wireless G/B/N). Analog technology is dying, I worked in the broadcast world for some time and I saw analog HD technology (the same tech being used in surveillance now) 10 years ago. It was easily replaced by network (cat5) based streaming & SD card format platforms. The reason it was replaced was because proprietary in the analog world means something entirely different than in the IP world. Issue a simple firmware update to all your "proprietary IP cameras" and poof ONFIV compliance. Now this isn't true in every case but the principle is true across the board... Analog tech is still operating using wavelength transmissions & conversion. To standardize analog HD devices you need wavelength conversion standards... these don't come easy (if ever) ... so in short my view is that IP will do away with any analog HD talk once (not if) they extend the length of IP signal loss limitation (beyond 300ft).

Luke, then IP needs to get prices to come down. Hopefully this helps motivate that but knowing the big IP manufacturers mentality, they'd rather sacrifice the lower end of the market than cut prices too steep.

I agree 100%... I don't dislike the HD analog technlogies, but I wouldn't consider them for anything above 8 cameras. We've cut out the big IP camera manufacturers entirely and I think you'll see others do the same.

Analog tech is still operating using wavelength transmissions & conversion. To standardize analog HD devices you need wavelength conversion standards...

I agree, though I would add its not analog tech specifically that is to blame, rather its the evolution from and the recent devolution to broadcaster mentality. Broadcasters are notoriously stingy with bandwidth and rightly so. But that comes at a price, namely inflexibility. The thing that sets them in stone is their high efficiency; whether its analog (xVI) or digital (SDI), they shoehorn the signal wall to wall sequentially, without waste. But then there is no where to go. IP packetizes, and pays through the nose effeciency wise for it, but in the end is far more scalable.

Mixed metaphor of the year awarded for those sad creations who 'come out of the woodwork' and then immediately 'die on the vine'. :)

I would also add that the analog standards do exist... However the issue is that the companies want to create vertical solutions... they don't want their cameras working on different dvrs and vice versa.

Since this is obviously a IP focused group we all undoubtedly feel that IP HD will win out. However, some of those alternates do have some merit and may fit the needs of some projects. There have been many occassions where analog, even at SD resolution would have been a better fit on select projects.

However, the continued shift away from any kind of well established standard is just going to confuse the customer, future integrators, and the installers. I recently ran across a site where a potential customer has HD-SDI cameras, 960H cameras, and a smattering of analog. None of which are compatible and are on entirely different brands of DVRs. To that particular customer they are all "HD" and do not understand the challenge they have generated for themselves.

This is occurring just as IP is starting to have some level of basic unified standards and policing of those standards (thank you IPVM!). It doesn't bode well for the various competing HD products.

Austin, I am fairly bullish on the non IP HD offerings, obviously save for the interoperability and marketing issues.

The lower cost is a huge driver. In a market filled with 'grudge purchases' / 'cost center' decisions, much lower costs is very appealing.

...obviously save for the interoperability and marketing issues.

Is Dahua a bigger competitor to HIK than all other manufacturers combined?

If you were CEO of HIK why wouldn't you agree to make compatible analog equipment (since it seems the underlying technology is much the same), and try to dominate together at first and then battle it out between the two of you later, RISK style?

Good Grudge sales primer.

In the China domestic market, my impression is that Dahua and Hikvision are intense competitors. I suspect that makes cooperation more challenging.

Of course, in the bigger picture, outside of China, their big threat / rivals are Axis, Sony, Panasonic, Bosch, etc. To that end, I agree with you that they would be better off to team against the non Chinese rivals first to maximize their incursion.

Maybe they should make their cameras with region lockdown codes, like DVD-readers. Just to guarantee domestic incompatibility...

The biggest issue is installation costs. If it is a system with cheap camera, no need to string together multiple site, then the integrator is not needed. It becomes a more DYI than anything else. The distributor will not carry the product becuase they cannot make money on it. Then the issue of returns and warrenties etc.

This will become the venue for mom and pops. Sorry I dont see this as a big issue for the larger accounts or integratgors. No blood bath here, the implosion will begin shortly.

But distributors are already carrying HDCVI. Also, when TVI comes out, what Hikvision distributor is going to say, "No we won't sell that."?

"This will become the venue for mom and pops. Sorry I dont see this as a big issue for the larger accounts or integrators"

I agree with your sentiments about cheap and simple not being good for integrators and traditional security distributors.

But if consumers like it, and choose it, even if integrators and distributors refuse, wouldn't that hurt those professionals by losing out on that business?

I think that, as with all products, the HD analog products have their time and place. They won't ever, IMO, replace IP cameras entirely. But, I do see them killing off SD analog systems almost immediately. I don't see any reason to install SD analog systems going forward when the cost of HD analog (HD-CVI specifically) is just about the same, give or take a few dollars.

Where they might hurt the IP segment is in the smaller projects that want/need HD quality, they now have a choice. And that choice is much less expensive. We have many clients who would like to have HD, but cannot afford an IP based system. HD-CVI allows them to enter the HD market and stay on budget.

When HD-SDI was announced, it didn't offer the cost savings that we are seeing with the HD-CVI products. Had HD-SDI been as drastic of a cost savings over IP that HD-CVI offers, there wouldn't have been a need to develop HD analog any further. I don't know that HD-TVI or AHD will be able to offer any advantage over HD-CVI. They certainly can't be MUCH cheaper, can they?

My question is, who's the VHS and who's the BETAMAX?

John, good points.

Regarding SD analog, I see 2 core use cases:

  • The huge existing base of SD analog only DVRs. There will be a lot who don't want to spend the money to upgrade their DVR (as little as that might be).
  • Lack of HD analog options. This will change over time, but many of the biggest surveillance manufacturers don't offer CVI or TVI (yet).

With regards to:

"I don't know that HD-TVI or AHD will be able to offer any advantage over HD-CVI."

CVI has a 6 months head start, which won't be a huge deal in the long run. What TVI has is the backing of Hikvision (and I would assume, eventually their bigger OEMs like Honeywell and Interlogic, to name just two). AHD, to me, is more problematic, because they don't seem to have major backers.


I agree on the first two points when taking into consideration existing installs. I guess I should had mentioned I was speaking about new installs. Of course people will still need a replacement camera here or there. But I don't see a need for analog only DVR's, unless there is an installed base of analog cameras and they have a tight budget, or other specific reasons to stay with a particular brand.

I also agree that there aren't any (AFAIK) true WDR options is the HD-CVI lineup. Also, 1080p cameras commonly only have two models; one dome, one bullet, where the 720p cameras can be found in more varieties. We also haven't yet seen any 1080p varifocal HD-CVI cameras. These are the last hurdles to fuller adoption in our new installs.

I guess I agree with you on the AHD. Kind of hard to take it seriously when there isn't a big name behind it. My money is on Dahua=BETAMAX and Hikvision=VHS. I could be completely wrong, but I guess time will tell. 6 months isn't really that long of a headstart.

Mr. Dillabaugh,

I'm not sure it's correct to frame the marketplace matchup as if it's a winner take all affair, like Betamax vs. VHS or Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD. Those exclusive outcomes were driven by the economic efficiency of mass producing/distributing/retailing media in a single format. IMHO, what tipped the scale to VHS was that it could record a whole feature film on just one tape (Incredible!), vs only an hour in the case of Betamax.

With CVI/TVI, for the Mom and Pop installs at least, they could go a year or three before needing to replace a camera. And its likely that even if CVI were to get trounced by TVI, that as long as there was some install base, replacements could be found online/mail order, just like SD analog will for a while to come. (If netflix was around in the betamax days, maybe they'd still be around.)

So I would think it's more like Nikon vs. Canon in the photo world. Both similar but incompatible, yet both viable technologies for some time to come, even if one was to get the upper-hand. For the consumer though, its bound to cause some extra confusion this time since the technology labels are almost identical (as Carl notes)... and we all know the difference one letter can make in a name. ;)

There is a Dahua 720p WDR model, the HAC-HF3101. Its specs read the same as the IPC-HF3101 we tested, which performed well. I don't know if any of their OEMs have picked it up for North America, but you can get one on Alibaba for about $150.

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